Djukanovic declares victory in Montenegro presidential elections

Djukanovic declares victory in Montenegro presidential elections

Djukanovic declares victory in Montenegro presidential elections

Montenegro's former prime minister and long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists leader Milo Djukanovic speaks during a celebration after presidential elections in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on Sunday.

If confirmed, the result is an approbation for his move past year to defy Moscow and take Montenegro into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Mladen Bojanic, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties, including some wanting closer ties with Russian Federation, was set to come second with 33 percent, according to a projection by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) pollster, based on a representative sample of polling stations.

"Milo Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro, " said Milos Nikolic of the Democratic Party of Socialists.

Djukanovic, a former prime minister and the country's dominant politician, and the Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for almost 30 years.

Djukanovic is set to replace incumbent President Filip Vujanovic, whose mandate expires in May.

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Previously served as prime minister and once as a president, 56-year-old Djukanovic is returning to active politics after a brief break. "I will continue the struggle to liberate Montenegro from Djukanovic's dictatorship".

The turnout was 64 per cent out of nearly 530,000 eligible voters in the small Adriatic country of some 650,000 people.

Mr Djukanovic has been accused by the opposition of being linked to the mafia, which he denies. "Looking forward to years of cooperation in ensuring this future for our two peoples", Thaci wrote. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian.

Bojanic conceded defeat, saying: "Montenegro chose the way it chose".

Djukanovic's election team earlier announced his victory.

"I agree with Djukanovic that the state is stronger than mafia".

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Djukanovic had claimed the opposition wanted to turn the country into a "Russian province" and threaten Montenegro's multicultural way of life. The results showed that Djukanovic won a large enough percentage to avoid a runoff election.

With Montenegro's average salary at around 500 euros ($615) and unemployment at over 20 percent, the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

Montenegro, along with Serbia, is the favourite to join the European Union next, possibly as early as 2025.

The EU in its 2016 country progress report told Montenegro it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, in particular on human trafficking and money laundering, and also noted the problem of global cigarette smuggling through the port of Bar.

"Congratulation to Montenegro citizens on free and democratic presidential elections".

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